Ever since the Nexus S debuted, I drooled over it incessantly. Here it finally was, a successor to the Nexus One and markedly a vast improvement from Google's first iteration of its Android phone. It was to be the pinnacle in the marriage between hardware and software from a company that was known for its "engineering approach" to solving problems. In my mind, it was also the only worthy one to make me jump ship from the iPhone bandwagon.
Overtime, my zeal and enthusiasm for Apple have been replaced by skepticism and a loss of faith. The walled paradise of iTunes became more of a prison than a utopia and the utter lack of respect for one's autonomy became all the more blaring. It was time to leave the cult in search of the rough and tumble waters of true freedom that Android promised.
The first week was absolute bliss. The Nexus S has a gorgeous 4 inch super AMOLED screen, with a slick curved front. It is thin, jet black, and minimal in its branding save for the name "Google" on the back. When the screen turns on and off, it mimics the box TVs of yesteryears, paying homage to the cathode ray tubes that paved the way for today's digital media world. And most of all, it does everything that the iPhone won't; transfer files directly to and from the phone with a USB cable, install apps not on the app store, and turn by turn GPS navigation (I'm the worst when it comes to getting lost) for free. I have fallen in love with a phone that wasn't Apple's.
But as I approached a full month of using it, the more I found myself comparing it to the iPhone and lamenting its poor performances in certain areas. The battery life is horrendously poor, not lasting a full day. Frequently I found myself with a dead phone by 5pm. The choppiness of the user interface (such as when it transitions from home screen to app, or when sliding from one screen to another) is clearly sub-par compared to the iPhone. And most importantly, the Nexus S, or more appropriately the Android platform, lacks serious photo apps. The iPhone 4 was my primary camera, offering stunningly beautiful hi-res photos with gorgeous effects applied courtesy of Instagram. There are other minor annoyances with Android apps compared to iPhone apps, making me hate this cursed phone and second guessing whether I made the right decision to make the switch.
It's been several months of mere tolerance of the Nexus S, but after this week I have become a believer again. The client site I am working out of has the strictest of network policies, often preventing me from accessing our own corporate sites, let alone Office Communicator. All week, I've been using the Nexus S as a mobile hotspot, jumping on its 3G connection to surf the internet, log in to Office Communicator, and even upload a 127mb file for a colleague with ease. All of this without paying an extra cent for tethering. It was a life saver.
Since much of my life is embedded in Google's services, the Nexus S delivers all of that seamlessly and effortlessly. I use Google Voice, Google Docs, Google Reader, and Google Talk daily on my laptop, and this week I found myself using the Nexus S to access all of these things while on the move. I've looked up rewards numbers at the Hertz desk using Google Docs, chatted with friends on Google Talk while commuting, and caught up with soccer blogs via Google Reader before boarding the plane.
Most of all, I am truly free with the Nexus S. I can upload any file directly to the phone without any intermediary software such as iTunes. I can look at the entire file structure, and upgrade to whichever OS I want to upgrade to. Even the UI can be customized via third party apps such as LauncherPro. It is as flexible as I want it to be, offering me unprecedented freedom that I did not have with the iPhone.
I can confidently say Android is terrible at certain things. But there's enough about it that truly makes it stand out from the iPhone, and is a welcome alternative to Apple's totalitarian approach to the world of mobile devices.